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A Novel, Membrane-Based Bioreactor Design to Enable a Closed-Loop System on Earth and Beyond

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC17C0026
Agency Tracking Number: 150287
Amount: $749,989.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T6.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2017
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2017-09-22
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-09-22
Small Business Information
490 Lake Park Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610-8099
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Alison Pieja
 Principal Investigator
 (650) 427-0430
Business Contact
 Molly Morse
Title: Business Official
Phone: (650) 427-0430
Research Institution
 Colorado School of Mines
 Junko Munakata Marr
1012 14th St.
Golden, CO 80401-1838
United States

 (303) 273-3421
 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

The proposed innovation is a membrane bioreactor system to produce a biopolymer from methane gas that is applicable in outer space environments. This new methane fermentation process will expand and advance current gas delivery techniques to create affordable fermentation methods on Earth and beyond. Mango Materials is currently working to scale up and commercialize the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) from methane, but its scaled-up fermentation systems are typically tall and narrow to take advantage of hydrostatic pressure for the transfer of methane into solution. The proposed work represents a unique approach that could enable the production of biopolymer on Earth and also non-Earth environments, thus creating a closed-loop system for producing biopolymer products on-demand in outer space. The proposed design is a novel, membrane-based bioreactor that will enable bacterial growth and biopolymer production to occur in micro- or low-gravity environments by providing gases through membranes. Growth and biopolymer production using methane as a feedstock will be demonstrated at high efficiencies. The proposed work will also identify methods by which process wastes can be recycled back to minimize the required inputs. Finally, a thorough feasibility analysis will be conducted to evaluate the use of the process on a long-term space mission. Mango Materials will partner with Colorado School of Mines, where there is extensive experience with membrane bioreactors, to design and construct this system.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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